Cal Poly Engineering’s Debra Larson Meets President Obama at White House Event

February 21, 2012

Cal Poly Engineering Dean Debra Larson attended a White House reception Feb. 8 that celebrated the efforts of deans at leading engineering schools for their commitment to retain and graduate more students in the field of engineering.

Cal Poly Engineering’s Debra Larson Meets President Obama at White House Event

Larson was among a select group of about 40 engineering deans whose colleges do well in student retention, as determined by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

“It was an honor to participate in this special occasion, and it affirms Cal Poly Engineering’s strong commitment to retaining and graduating more globally competitive students in the engineering field,” said Larson.

Also on hand were Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, other senior White House and National Science Foundation officials.

In his greeting to the engineering deans, President Barack Obama pledged to “use the bully pulpit to emphasize how important your work is” and assured that “everyone in this administration is four-square behind you,” the ASEE reported.
While overall college-graduation levels have grown by nearly 50 percent over the past two decades, the annual number of engineering graduates has virtually stagnated at around 120,000.

A national campaign – “Engineering – Stay With It” – launches this spring in partnership with academia, the private sector and the entertainment industry. It will focus on accelerating engineering experiences, providing encouragement, increasing the prestige of engineering and helping students graduate with engineering degrees.

“America has always been about innovation,” as well as scientific inquiry, the president said, and has “an incredible diversity of talent out there waiting to be tapped.” He said that “for every Steve Jobs we need 10,000 others.”

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